Food: Passion, some drinks and eating Pakistani at a Mexican restaurant

People got to eat.

Did you ever go to a restaurant and question its very existence? I have though not often because usually I was more interested in getting up and close with the waitress menu. Let’s say for instance you have a fine-dining establishment — a least such a place where you aren’t given a washtub full of peanuts to shuck and wildly toss them on the floor with their dead peanut-shell brothers — stuck in an area surrounded by dairy farms.

Now I am not here to tell no tales, you know I’d rather be suspended naked from the front of a freight train than to bulls**t you. (That should be your first warning.) But I have been to places on Earth, where from every direction one is treated to the bouquet of soil and cow dung. A lawyer once told me that motels in one town, plunked down in dairy country, are equipped with fly swatters on the wall. One can’t escape the flies nor the rich combination of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide wafting from the dairy factories no matter where you go.

Still, you stop at the local DQ for a Dude and Fries combo or wait to be seated uptown at the Dos Hernandez Fine Mexican Food. By the way, the Hernandez brothers worked their way from dairy hands to restaurant owners. One would think a person could get accustomed to the smell of bovine waste and its by products after a few years, the time the brothers spent in the dairies. But no, the Hernandez brothers became four watery eyes and sold the restaurant to a nice couple fresh from Karachi. Coincidentally, both old and new owners discovered that they had shared the same cheating-ass coyote and the same border blind spot to join the American work force. Then the boys said ¬°adios! and away they rode. So, now on the flip side of the Dos Hernandez Fine Mexican Food menu can one order all those Pakistani dishes once only seen in a Anthony Bourdain TV travel piece.

All of this, of course, ’cause people got to eat.

So now, in this age of instant communication, people tend to tell everyone how good –or bad — certain food or food celebrity might be (without ending in prepositions.) An example from Monday’s issue of The New York Times. “The Grey Lady” provided an online chat with its restaurant critic Pete Wells. Yes, it was the same Pete Wells who ignited a s**t storm when he savaged Guy Fieri’s new restaurant. The Wells piece on Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar In Times Square was undoubtedly entertaining as some food criticism goes these days. Perhaps Wells unleashed a can of rhetorical question whoop-ass on everything after the first word. One must realize though that the criticism was not penned by your average, run-of-the-mill mystery shopper reporting for his dinner. It’s The Freaking New York Times! Wells also had big, though light, loafers to fill when he replaced Frank Bruni in November 2011.

Bruni, now the first openly-gay Op-Ed writer for the Times was, himself, no rank amateur when he started visiting the fine, and sometimes crappy, dining establishment around “The City.” Bruni had previously covered the Gulf War for the Detroit Free Press and after stints at various Times desks, was named the newspaper’s Rome bureau chief. He remains a very talented writer.

Although Bruni tried to maintain a low profile when visiting dining establishments his writing was sometime larger than life. Julia Langbien, who has written for various dining publications, had a very unique take on Bruni’s critiques. Her introduction to The Bruni Digest:(Ed: Not safe for prudent individuals and definitely not safe for work!)

¬† “In which I sit on a dirt mound somewhere in Brooklyn with my ears pricked, waiting for New York Times head restaurant critic Frank Bruni, who I imagine to be a Venetian count in a huge ruffled collar, to dole out stars from the inside breast pocket of his brocaded chamber robe.”

Food inspires passion. I can still remember my Mama’s pigs-in-the-blanket, which I tried in every way possible to emulate but couldn’t because I don’t think you can replicate your mother’s love. I worked in a cafe for several years for a very sweet lady named Lynda. I learned only recently that Lynda had unexpectedly died. We were open only for the lunch crowd at the cafe, 11-2. As I mentioned here before, or not, I also was a secret shopper for Dairy Queen stores and on Saturdays I sold beer and would occasionally bar tend for Lynda at a local horse-racing track.

My bit part definitely wasn’t the big leagues but I certainly appreciate how difficult and, yes, how fun the food and beverage industry could be. Those who make it in the business work their butts off. But, lucky for them, people got to eat. Rest in peace Lynda.

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